Update from the Road
I decided in July to wait until the end of summer to give you an update from the road so I could include our four summer camp events in this update. Before summer though, in late spring, I took a trip down to North Carolina and was part of a youth event that I have been excited to tell you about since May. Laura Anderson and her husband Jimmy are ministers at a small country church about an hour outside of Charlotte. Though Jimmy is the one paid employee of this little church, and works another job outside the church to help make ends meet, Jimmy and Laura work hard all year to raise money for the spring event, that brings in teens from all over the county. Teens that normally wouldn’t step foot into a church come to this yearly youth conference where Laura and Jimmy hire a great out of state band to play all weekend for the students, and a national youth speaker with the money they have raised. The students are broken up into teams and then go, during the day, into the community to serve the elderly and needy and then come back to the church in the evening. After a great dinner, the students are led in worship by the band and are challenged from the Word by the speaker before they break into small groups to discuss what God has shown them throughout the day of service and worship. Every year the Andersons see teens surrender their lives to Christ at this event and then get plugged into a local church where they can grow. I sat during meals with many students who talked about this event being their favorite weekend of the year and how God has used it and the Andersons in their lives. Needless to say, I was honored to be the speaker this year and it was incredible to see this little country church packed wall to wall with students who wanted to learn more about Christ and His love for them.
I had four summer camp youth events over the last several weeks and I want to share one highlight from each event. Those of you who know my past, know I was a bad kid who got into a lot of trouble. At our first camp, Simpson Park, there was a teenager who almost got sent home from camp for causing trouble during the week. Handing out condoms to the freshman girls didn’t go over very well with his youth leaders, but he prayed to receive Christ after I shared my story. He told his leaders that night that he had an encounter with Christ that he believes will change his life forever.
The second camp was a dream come true for my twins, Stephen and Andrew. I spoke at Cedar Point, the world’s largest amusement park, in the hotel conference center. This hotel, The Breakers, is over 100 years old and we have spent almost every spring of my kids’ lives, including this last one, staying at Breakers while enjoying our two day vacation at Cedar Point. It was surreal seeing the teens from this amazing youth ministry, worshipping God with their whole hearts in this old hotel that is so special to our family. It’s rough preaching and then having to ride rollercoasters, but someone has to do it.
The next day we left for our third camp, which has been our family’s favorite for a lifetime, Camp Lurecrest. Speaking at Camp Lurecrest is always very special but this year when we arrived at camp we were greeted by our daughter Kelly who had been in North Carolina for the previous two weeks (visiting dear friends) and our oldest son Joshua who was on staff at Lurecrest all summer. I started speaking at Lurecrest in 1989 and have spent at least one week (usually more) there during the summer almost every year since. It thrills me to know that my children want to be on staff at Lurecrest for many years to come.
The fourth and last camp of the summer was a camp that I have had the privilege of watching grow over the years. When I first started speaking for this youth ministry at this camp, the group was so small that we met in a little room in the basement of one of the dorms. Now, years later, we met in a big beautiful chapel surrounded by the beauty of Lake Ann, Michigan. I have worked with the youth leader of this ministry (Joe) since the mid 90’s, and this was the first year he has not been at camp. One of my highlights from this week at camp was watching the two new youth pastors who Joe trained up to take his place doing an amazing job leading the staff and loving the kids. For those of you who know me well, you know how much Godly mentoring means to me, and I watched Mark and Rick (the new guys who Joe had trained to take over for him) lead students to Christ each of the five days I was privileged to be at camp with them.
One last thing. Since my last newsletter I spoke at the very first Chosen Conference that was put on by the exciting ministry that Carol has helped start and lead, Giving Orphans Hope. It was an amazing conference and I had the emotional job of telling our daughter’s incredible story. The story of God saving her life and choosing Carol and I to be the parents of this amazing person, one of our very best friends, our beloved middle schooler, Mareah!
Thanks for all of your love and support,